1. ISAAC AND REBEKAH
a. What reveals the earnest faith of the aging patriarch Abraham for his posterity after his wife’s death? Genesis 24:1–4, 7.
b. How did Abraham’s servant explain God’s leading in the choice of Rebekah to become the wife of Isaac? Genesis 24:42–51, 58.
c. What can we learn from the happiness of this union? Genesis 24:63–67.
“Isaac had been trained in the fear of God to a life of obedience. And when he was forty years old, he submitted to have his God-fearing, experienced father’s servant choose for him. He believed that God would direct in regard to his obtaining a wife.
“Children now from fifteen to twenty, generally consider themselves competent to make their own choice, without the consent of their parents. And they would look with astonishment, if it should be proposed to them to move in the fear of God and make the matter a subject of prayer! Isaac’s case is left on record, as an example for children to imitate in after generations, especially those who profess to fear God.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 112.
a. What trial did the new couple face—and, based on the record of Isaac’s age, for how long? Genesis 25:20, 21 (first part), 26 (last part).
b. How was Isaac’s faith rewarded? Genesis 25:21.
c. What tumultuous experience did Rebekah undergo after she conceived—and what did she do about it? Genesis 25:22.
d. Why was Rebekah having such an experience—and what was she made to understand? Genesis 25:23, 24.
“God knows the end from the beginning. He knew, before the birth of Jacob and Esau, just what characters they would both develop. He knew that Esau would not have a heart to obey Him. He answered the troubled prayer of Rebekah, and informed her that she would have two children, and the elder should serve the younger. He presented the future history of her two sons before her, that they would be two nations, the one greater than the other, and the elder should serve the younger.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 105, 106.
e. Describe the first of the twins. Genesis 25:25, 27 (first half). How does a restless spirit such as his tend toward discontentment? Proverbs 27:20.
“Esau grew up loving self-gratification and centering all his interest in the present.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 177.
“Happiness is not found in selfish gratification; it follows only in the wake of duty.”—Child Guidance, p. 206.
3. CONTRASTING PERSONALITIES
a. What did the younger twin do at birth? Genesis 25:26 (first half).
b. Describe the character of the younger twin. Genesis 25:27 (last part).
“Jacob, thoughtful, diligent, and care-taking, ever thinking more of the future than the present, was content to dwell at home, occupied in the care of the flocks and the tillage of the soil.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 177.
c. How did the parents relate to their two sons? Genesis 25:28.
“Impatient of restraint, [Esau] delighted in the wild freedom of the chase, and early chose the life of a hunter. Yet he was the father’s favorite. The quiet, peace-loving shepherd was attracted by the daring and vigor of this elder son, who fearlessly ranged over mountain and desert, returning home with game for his father and with exciting accounts of his adventurous life. . . . [Jacob’s] patient perseverance, thrift, and foresight were valued by the mother. His affections were deep and strong, and his gentle, unremitting attentions added far more to her happiness than did the boisterous and occasional kindnesses of Esau. To Rebekah, Jacob was the dearer son.
“The promises made to Abraham and confirmed to his son were held by Isaac and Rebekah as the great object of their desires and hopes. With these promises Esau and Jacob were familiar.”—Ibid.
d. Why was the order of birth so important in ancient times? Exodus 13:12.
“With the spiritual was connected the temporal birthright, which would give . . . the headship of the family and possession of a double portion of his father’s wealth.”—Ibid., pp.180, 181.
4. A QUESTION OF ATTITUDE
a. Aside from the parents’ view of Jacob, how did God regard him—and why? Psalm 47:4; Matthew 5:6.
b. Describe the depth of experience revealed in a true longing for God. Job 23:11, 12; Psalm 119:10.
“Let your heart break for the longing it has for God, for the living God. . . . With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of Elijah, claim for yourself all that God has promised.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 149.
c. What timeless principle in Jacob’s attitude reveals why, in terms of spirituality and character, he was more suited to the birthright than was his irreligious brother? Romans 13:14.
“[Esau and Jacob] were taught to regard the birthright as a matter of great importance, for it included not only an inheritance of worldly wealth but spiritual pre-eminence. He who received it was to be the priest of his family, and in the line of his posterity the Redeemer of the world would come. On the other hand, there were obligations resting upon the possessor of the birthright. He who should inherit its blessings must devote his life to the service of God. Like Abraham, he must be obedient to the divine requirements. In marriage, in his family relations, in public life, he must consult the will of God. . . .
“Esau, as the eldest, was the one entitled to the birthright. But Esau had no love for devotion, no inclination to a religious life. The requirements that accompanied the spiritual birthright were an unwelcome and even hateful restraint to him. The law of God, which was the condition of the divine covenant with Abraham, was regarded by Esau as a yoke of bondage. Bent on self-indulgence, he desired nothing so much as liberty to do as he pleased. To him power and riches, feasting and reveling, were happiness. He gloried in the unrestrained freedom of his wild, roving life.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 177, 178.
5. LONGING FOR THE INFINITE ONE
a. Where was the focus of Jacob’s thoughts? 2 Corinthians 4:18.
“Jacob had learned from his mother of the divine intimation that the birthright should fall to him, and he was filled with an unspeakable desire for the privileges which it would confer. It was not the possession of his father’s wealth that he craved; the spiritual birthright was the object of his longing. To commune with God as did righteous Abraham, to offer the sacrifice of atonement for his family, to be the progenitor of the chosen people and of the promised Messiah, and to inherit the immortal possessions embraced in the blessings of the covenant—here were the privileges and honors that kindled his most ardent desires. His mind was ever reaching forward to the future, and seeking to grasp its unseen blessings.
“With secret longing he listened to all that his father told concerning the spiritual birthright; he carefully treasured what he had learned from his mother. Day and night the subject occupied his thoughts, until it became the absorbing interest of his life.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 178.
b. Why should Jacob’s priority in life inspire us today? Psalms 42:1; 119:11.
“An intensity such as never before was seen is taking possession of the world. In amusement, in moneymaking, in the contest for power, in the very struggle for existence, there is a terrible force that engrosses body and mind and soul. In the midst of this maddening rush, God is speaking. He bids us come apart and commune with Him.”—Education, p. 260.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What can we learn from the patriarchs with regard to choosing a spouse?
2. Explain the spiritual insight given to Rebekah concerning her two sons.
3. What contrast existed between the personality of Jacob and of Esau?
4. Of which aspect of the birthright was Jacob deeply desirous?
5. Amid the intense level of distraction today, what must we consider?